At least 17 people including children have died following an outbreak of diarrhoea (cholera) in the last two weeks in southern Somalia, authorities said on Wednesday.Hawaadley District Commissioner in the Middle Shabelle region, Ali Mohamed told reporters the situation was yet to be contained by medical authorities in the town since most of them were ill-equipped to handle cases of outbreaks.

Ali said the recent flooding was the main course of the outbreak, saying El NiƱo weather phenomenon had exposed residents to water borne diseases.

“During the El-Nino period late last year, the Shabelle River burst its banks and now there is a lot of water lying in the village. We have only one hospital in the village with no capacity to handle such situations,” said Mohamed.

Humanitarian agencies estimate 145,000 people were affected as a result of the El-Nino phenomenon last year, most in the central and northern parts of Somalia.

While launching the Humanitarian Response Plan Tuesday, Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq said Somalia was still facing a humanitarian crisis with 4.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and another 308,000 children under the age of 5 years acutely malnourished.

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